What You Need to know about the SSAT Test

 

What is the SSAT?

The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) is a standardized test used for admission to a private or independent school, including most boarding schools. The exam measures verbal, math, and reading skills needed for success in an independent school and is a tool used to compare applicants regardless of background or experience. The SSAT exam is used for elementary, middle, and high school admissions, therefore it contains different levels.

  • The Upper-Level exam is for applicants in grades 8 and above who seek admission to grades 9 to Post Graduate.
  • The Middle-Level exam is for grades 5th, 6th, and 7th that are applying for grades 6-8.
  • The Elementary Level is for applicants in both 3rd and 4th grade that are applying for admission to 4th and 5th grade.

When do you usually take the SSAT?

The standard SSAT is given on eight designated Saturdays from October to April with an added June date. There are also flex dates available throughout the year where an individual or group of students may take the assessment. (A flex test may be given by a member school or an educational consultant)

How long is the SSAT Test?

  • 3 hours and 5 minutes (Upper and Middle Levels)
  • 2 hours and 5 minutes (Elementary Level)

How much does the SSAT examination cost?

  • The SSAT (Upper and Middle Level) costs $139.00
  • The SSAT (Elementary Level) costs $85.00

What are the test sections/format of the SSAT?

The SSAT has three major scored sections with two unscored components. The five sections are as follows: Quantitative (two parts for Upper and Middle Level), Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, Experimental (unscored), and an Essay Prompt (unscored).

 

 

Elementary Level Breakdown

Quantitative/Math

  • 30 questions
  • 30 minutes
  • Basic math concepts: number sense, properties and operations, algebra, geometry and spatial sense, measurement, and probability

Verbal

  • 30 questions
  • 20 minutes
  • Two main sections- vocabulary and analogies
  • Synonyms and analogies
  • Language, word relationships, nuances in word meanings

Reading

  • 28 questions
  • 30 minutes
  • Seven short passages with four multiple-choice questions
  • Include- prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction

Experimental

  • 15-17 questions (unscored)
  • 15 minutes
  • Not scored
  • This section is comprised of mixed content questions that are tested for future SSAT exams

Writing Sample

  • 1 prompt (unscored)
  • 15 minutes
  • A written response to a picture prompt where the student is asked to tell a story about what happened (must include a beginning, middle, and end)
  • Not graded but a copy is provided to your school

 

 

Middle Level Breakdown:

Quantitative/Math

  • 50 questions (broken into two parts)
  • 60 minutes (two 30 minute sections)
  • Problem-solving, arithmetic, elementary algebra, geometry, and other quantitative concepts
  • No calculator permitted

Verbal

  • 60 questions (30 synonyms & 30 analogies)
  • 30 minutes
  • Vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and ability to relate ideas
  • Similarities and relationships through synonyms and analogies

Reading

  • 40 questions
  • 40 minutes
  • Read passages that may be taken from Literary fiction, Humanities, Science, and Social Studies
  • Recognize the main idea, locate details, inferencing, word meaning, author’s purpose, attitude/tone, understand an author’s opinion, predictions based on information

Experimental

  • 16 questions (unscored)
  • 15 minutes
  • New questions tested for future SSAT exams

Writing Sample

  • 1 prompt (unscored)
  • 25 minutes
  • A choice between two creative story starters that measure the student’s ability to write and organize ideas
  • Not scored but a copy of the writing sample is sent to your school

 

 

Upper Level Breakdown:

Quantitative/Math

  • 50 questions (broken into two sections)
  • 60 minutes (Two-30 minute parts)
  • Arithmetic, elementary algebra, geometry, and other quantitative concepts
  • Not permitted to use a calculator

Verbal

  • 60 questions (30 synonyms & 30 analogies)
  • 30 minutes
  • Vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and ability to relate ideas
  • Similarities and relationships through synonyms and analogies

Reading

  • 40 questions
  • 40 minutes
  • Reading passages range in length from 250-350 words
  • Passages are taken from Literary Fiction, Humanities, Science and Social Studies
  • Recognize the main idea, locate details, inferencing, word meaning, author’s purpose, attitude/tone, understand an author’s opinion, predictions based on information

Experimental

  • 16 questions (unscored)
  • 15 minutes
  • New questions tested for future SSAT exams

Writing Sample

  • 1 prompt (unscored)
  • 25 minutes
  • A choice between two prompts- one creative and one traditional
  • Not scored but a copy is sent to your school

 

 

How is the SSAT scored?

The SSAT is a norm-referenced exam. Norm-referenced tests report whether a test taker performed better or worse than the average student. The percentile ranking is based on values from 1 to 99. The score report available online after test completion will also contain a scaled score which is constructed from a range of values.

Quantitative (scaled score range):

  • Upper Level: 500-800
  • Middle Level: 440-704
  • Elementary Level: 300-600

Reading Comprehension (scaled score range):

  • Upper Level: 500-800
  • Middle Level: 440-704
  • Elementary Level: 300-600

Verbal Reasoning (scaled score range):

  • Upper Level: 500-800
  • Middle Level: 440-704
  • Elementary Level: 300-600

The unscored essay is sent to the school where you are applying and is considered part of the application process. For more information on how the SSAT is scored click here!
 

 

Tips and strategies for the SSAT

Here are a few things you can do at home to better prepare for the SSAT exam:

  • Begin practicing for the SSAT early so that you will feel more confident with the test format and style of questions.
  • SSAT Practice Tests help a bunch. Confidence is built through practice
  • Don’t waste time on questions you feel are difficult. Go back to the question later so that you do not waste time.
  • Check your answer sheet when each section has been completed. Be careful not to skip questions!
  • Earn as many points as you can! You receive one point for each correct answer.

How can MINDSPIRE help with the SSAT Prep?

At MINDSPIRE, we provide tutoring and test prep that is tailored to specific learning styles and individual needs. If you are interested in getting a tutor for the SSAT click here to learn more or give us a call at 844-537-PREP (7737).

 

Want to get more honest test prep tactics and methods delivered to your email inbox?

  • Join our E-newsletter to get test-taking tips and other valuable test information monthly.